Bonjour! Things are going fairly well here in Angers, France. I arrived a few days ago and have finally settled in. The first few days were hectic, but this weekend has been a short reprieve before classes commence next week.
My week began with a nine-hour flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Paris followed by a train ride to Angers. Once I arrived, I met my host family at the train station which was a relief since it meant I wouldn’t have to haul my luggage through the streets. I unpacked upon arrival rather than taking a much-needed nap which helped me both feel more comfortable in my new environment and adjust to the time change. That night I had a galette for dinner with my host family. Galette is a French dish that consists of a thin pancake folded in half that is filled with cheese, ham, an egg, and occasionally other ingredients such as tomatoes or vegetables. By the end of dinner, I was fighting to stay awake and decided it was best to rest.
The next day I visited the university I’m attending during my time in Angers. It’s called l’Université Catholique de l’Ouest or UCO, but most Angevins refer to it as le Catho. Le Catho is a little over a fifteen-minute walk from my residence to the university. Once at the campus, I took a placement test to assess my French proficiency so I’ll be in the proper level of classes. After the test we had a short break and then the university had arranged a tour of the city for all the foreign students to show us various important locations. Later that day I decided to do some exploring of my own which mostly consisted of me familiarizing myself with streets around the campus and my home in hopes that I would not get lost later on. This aim has only been semi-successful as even today I took a wrong turn on my way back from the grocery store and had to rely on Google Maps to guide me to the right street.
Thursday night my host family had some guests over for a dinner party. Their guests were biking throughout France and Angers was their stop for the night. Listening to their conversations was very interesting even though I didn’t manage to catch everything they were saying as they spoke extremely fast and my French comprehension skills are far from perfect. At one point, they began a discussion of various American cities and would ask me about different buildings or landmarks. I’d forgotten until that moment how strange it can be to hear the names of places or people that I’ve known for most of my life pronounced in a French accent. In fact, I found myself unable to figure out that they had asked me about Washington, D.C. one time. It’s humorous to me that I understood the entire question that was asked in French excluding the name of my own country’s capital.
It’s the little things like that example that are some of the things with which I occasionally struggle. I had mentally prepared for some of the major differences like the small size of grocery stores here and always walking everywhere but failed to account for things such as the light switches looking very different than what I’m used to.
All in all, everything is going well here in France and I’m looking forward to starting classes next week. À bientôt !